Despite his opposition to rent control, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says he supports a charter amendment that could impose caps on rent hikes on private apartments.
In an interview Wednesday, Frey said his opposition to rent control hasn't changed, but "I support local control, which is what this ballot initiative does."
"That has been my position throughout my entire career," Frey said. "This charter amendment does not make rent control."
In August, Frey did not take action on that proposal, saying that he didn't see any language on how the City Council-led policy would work.
Instead, he vetoed a separate one that would have given citizens the right to petition the council to create rent stabilization policies.
In his veto message, he said he opposes legislation by referendum and that the initiative would outsource the city leaders' core responsibilities to an interest group. The City Council members failed to override the mayor's veto.
Asked Wednesday why he didn't approve or veto the council-led initiative in August, Frey said "with all of the charter amendments, I let them through, regardless of my support or not."
The two rent-control proposals were crafted by Council President Lisa Bender and Council Members Cam Gordon, Jeremiah Ellison and Jamal Osman to help protect vulnerable renters, particularly people of color, to help address the housing crisis and avoid displacement.
While the Minneapolis ballot measure doesn't spell out policy details, a St. Paul proposal would cap rent increases at 3% annually without exemptions for inflation or new construction. It's touted as one of the nation's most stringent measures, and has the support of Mayor Melvin Carter.
Frey, who said he's against St. Paul's initiative, believes that capping a landlord's ability to raise rents won't solve Minneapolis' housing crisis. He supports giving landlords up to a 40% break on their property taxes if they keep at least a fifth of their units affordable to people whose household income is less than 60% of the area median, which he says has been effective at supplying and preserving affordable housing.
All of Frey's major challengers support the rent control charter amendment, also known as Question 3.
In recent weeks, tenant advocates and landlord groups have waged a fierce campaign to influence the public on Question 3.
Landlords and property managers, who say that regulations would ruin an already tight housing market, have raised nearly $4 million to fight rent control ballot measures in both cities.
The Home to Stay coalition, a group of tenant advocates in Minneapolis, has released its final campaign ad this week, urging voters to support the proposal.
Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203